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AFP
June 6, 2020

Turkey sentences journalist over state media criticism

World

AFP
June 6, 2020

ISTANBUL: A Turkish journalist was sentenced to over a year in prison for his criticism of the state news agency in a tweet during the 2018 elections, local media reported Friday.

An Istanbul court gave a 14-month sentence to television presenter Metin Uca because he pointed out that data from Anadolu news agency was the same as the official results. Anadolu provided graphics four days before the vote on June 24, 2018, which had the vote share for each presidential candidate mocked up for clients ahead of the polls opening.

On voting day, Uca tweeted he was "protesting as a former employee against the use of Anadolu Agency as a tool to (distort) perception." Anadolu´s director-general Senol Kazanci and deputy director-general Mustafa Ozkaya filed a complaint against Uca at the time. The court convicted Uca of "insulting a public official because of their work" Thursday, Anka news agency reported.

He hit out at the sentence Friday, tweeting: "While the director-general of (Anadolu), who created the virtual infrastructure for the biggest voting fraud in history, was not put on trial, I get punished when I mention the issue." He added the "attempt to scare people using me is ridiculous".

The agency is frequently accused of toeing the government´s line, with often little coverage of opposition political parties. Turkey ranks 154 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders´ 2020 World Press Freedom index.

According to the P24 press freedom group, there are 103 journalists behind bars in Turkey, many of whom had been arrested in the crackdown after the 2016 coup attempt.